Cultural Sensitivity in Victim Services
Dr. Brian Ogawa  -  2005/1/26
Could you please offer specific advice on culturally sensitive services for Native, Asian (S.E.,East Asian,Pacific Islander)Hispanic/Latina,Korean, Japanese and Chinese.
1.  Alan Lai
 I am a bi-lingual and bi-cultural Chinese American, also a community advocate for 15+ years. A few advice are: Make no assumptions. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation immigrants act and perceive things differently. Ask open-ended questions because Asians tend to nod their head or say yes to show their respect. They do not always mean that. Explain to them in lay-people's term of the criminal justice system. Feel free to email me or call me at 206 624-5633, x111 for any specific case. I have bi-lingual brochure on crime aftermath symtoms and victims' rights. Be patient with them. Thank you, Alan
2.  B. Ogawa
 Specific advice would be difficult in a brief reply to all the populations mentioned. Persons of any group are also individuals and thus reflect many subcultures and diverse traits and needs. Is there a more pointed question I may respond to that might be of help?
The Promising Practices in Serving Crime Victims with Disabilities project, funded by OVC, is working with 10 victim assistance organizations across the country. Cultures often form their own view about people with disabilities. What strategies could you suggest to better serve people with diisabilities who are in minority populations while taking into consideration personal biases?
1.  B. Ogawa
 Certain cultures better "absorb" and integrate "differences" among people. Some do not apply the same stigma or at least not for the same reasons. Remember that these persons are of their culture even though there is also the "new" culture of persons with disabilities they are in. The more you have an appreciation of the context of their lives as a whole, the better you can meet their needs as well as those related to them.
Could you please address the issues surrounding religious issues and how that impact victims of different cultures and the need for cultural sensitivity in that area. Thank you
1.  B. Ogawa
 "Religion" for some cultures represents the entire lifeway and not a part of who they are. For example, our notion of "spiritual" may be somewhat limiting. We may emphasize emotional and psychological well being but these may be out of the realm of some people's experience. "Religion" is more holistic and integrated. How people view suffering and healing also is determined by religious background. In domestic violence, for example, (mis)interpretations of texts have limited the freedom and option open to certain spouses. We should always work from a person's belief system and guide tham to see if these are most helpful in any given situation. Rules follow purpose to live well rather than the reverse in any value system.
In my work with schools I find that certain cultures encourage sexual activity in very young [12-14 years of age] children. This creates problems with STDs and abuse what are your thought about this?
1.  Dick Olson
 Were there specific cultures you were thinking of when you asked this question?
2.  Dale Yeager
 Dr. We work with 800 school districts nationwide and we find that some ethinic groups will fight with school offcials over rules related to sexual contact. They use their ethnicity to justify there attitudes. It is more than just a small number.
3.  caitlin
 i completely agree... i feel that any early entry into sexula activity might have more to do with an overall climate created by society as a whole that depicts sex on tv between younger and younger individuals, as well as video games, magazines ads and articles, tv shows, and films all showing sex between very young people that may have a greater influence. i think attributing promiscutiy, early sex, or increases in stds to any one cuktural group is rather dangerous, and borrows on stereotypes.
4.  B. Ogawa
 I do not believe that certain cultural groups encourage sexual activity although some do set the stage for committed relationships at an earlier age than some. This may be because of their sense of group belonging and survival and continuity along chosen family/ancestral lines. The question of STD's etc. applies to all groups. No group encourages exploitation and abuse within their cultural norms. That is not their purpose although it may be a result.
As a full-time sexual assault nurse examiner program coordinator, one of my greatest challenges is impacting change in our law enforcement team. How do you train law enforcement in issues that evoke cultural sensitivity on the part of the first responders? (Beyond basic lectures, training). Here in the deep south we are challenged with specific issues related to this topic. Thank you for your feedback.
1.  Wanda Pezant
 Thank you Dr Ogawa for your insight and expertise.
2.  Beth Malchus
 In Ohio we have a state wide task force addressing sexual assault. Two of our task force members are from the law enforcement community. They have been very helpful in writing and endorcing our community protocol. Additionally, they took part in writing the recommendations for the state of Ohio which includes victims oriented cultural sensitivity in law enforcement training. We are hearing that in some communities in Ohio this is starting to happen.
3.  B. Ogawa
 I always believe that first responders learn by experience. Particular examples of how a situation could have been more competently handled for reasons of communication, safety, accurate assistance, etc. are helpful in the aftermath or debriefing sessions. An established liaison with certain communities is helpful. Overall policy and protocol must continuously be reviewed and improved based upon community input.
Could you please suggest books/jounrals that I could use with my co-workers and for trainings that are directly related to cultural sensitivity and victim of crime?
1.  B. Ogawa
 Well, I hesitate somewhat to mention this but Color of Justice, 2nd Edition, Allyn and Bacon is still considered the landmark text on the subject. It is used in trainings and classrooms nationwide. There are many references and citations to journals and books in COJ, 2nd Ed. that you can select from according to your specific needs and service setting. The National Multicultural Institute through an OVC grant also compiled some training materials with book citations.
1.What can sexual assault programs do to improve efforts to reach marginalized individuals for prevention and aftercare? 2.What do you say to those who think therapy is "a white person's thing"?
1.  B. Ogawa
 Programs usually have to do a systemic review to see if there is any institutionalized road blocks to services. We all have biases. Representation on boards and committees, media outreach appropriate to certain communities, diversity of staff or adequate training involving community members, etc. are all helpful. Part of the problem is that some persons are indeed marginalized because the modalities we use are from a biased and mostly "white majority" viewpoint. Staff need to carefully look at the assumptions and philosophy of their approach to determine exclusion.
2.  Pam Guthrie
 What about hiring people who are part of these communities?
As a professor of communication, I have taught intercultural sensitivity as part of communication courses for many years. Sometimes I feel as if I am perpetuating stereotypes. Example: polychronic vs. monochronic orientations to time. Does that mean I am teaching students that people from polychronic cultures are always late?
1.  B. Ogawa
 "Late" is a value judgment. Certain groups favor other values that may supersede such time allegiance. We are always hampered by stereotypes. I usually teach not specific this and that but overall culural values that may change in their application and modes over time and place. We are different in how we do things but not necessarily wrong. Observation, sincerity, respect, and adaptability must accompany any knowledge we try to impart.
What is the best approach for shifting the mind-set of those in the health profession (hp)who are not minority & are involved in providing service to minority victims in crisis. Standard approaches obviously haven't always worked, so how quickly do you see hp get on board, to provide effective service by taking-using your approach?
Good Morning from the Pacific NW, I was interested in your book on women and the Morita theory. My searches of the internet do not expound on the topic and I had questions about how the Morita theory would be helpful when dealing with traumatized women.
1.  B. Ogawa
 Please contact Volcano Press or any bookstore about Walking On Eggshells. I have used the Morita approach in private practice and victim assistance work for many years with victim/suurvivors of abuse and trauma. Briefly, Morita teaches acceptance of the reality of the trauma or abuse (not denying or minimizing its existence and severity), identifying purposes true to one's life, and responsible behavior to meet those goals. It has proven practical and affirming. Careful on some of the Internet searches on Morita. There are adaptations that are sometimes misleading. Start with Walking On Eggshells.
Can you please provide insight into the difficulties of providing victim services to juvenile victims of maltreatment, when there is a clash between what Americans consider child abuse and other cultural norms of discipline.
1.  B. Ogawa
 It is true that different groups approach discipline in a variety of ways. No group however condones violence for and in itself, especially upon its progeny and bearers of its culture and heritage. Cultural values are meant to preserve societies not destroy them. It is distortions that we need to guard against, such as self-serving justifications for ill mannered behavior. There are abusers in every culture. The communication point is not to judge the behavior solely in and of itself but to discuss the purpose of the behavior and cultural value behind it. For example, some cultures will invoke a swift slap to the behind of a child who has jeopardized his/her own safety but then quickly envelop the child in an embrace of love and concern. The purpose is to bring attention to the child's error but in the context of love. If another method is available then that should be discussed with the person. When we can agree on purpose we can all adjust our methods.
Can you offer any effective strategies to recruit culturally diverse staff, board members and volunteers?
1.  Jean Fei
 I think it is helpful to understand the difference between being multicultural and antiracist. A worksite may have people from many different ethnicities, but still operate in a monocultural, racist way. There are white people who struggle against racism. If your organization can operate in an antiracist way, it will attract culturally diverse staff, board and volunteers.
2.  M. Mendezona
 Thank you, Dr. Ogawa, for that sound and practical advice. Would that more organizations followed this fundamental approach. I chair MADD California State Organization's Multicultural Outreach Committee and do try to adhere to this approach. In time, one actually witnesses those who "walk the talk".
3.  Alan Lai
 I would suggest advertising in the minority ethnic newspapers/employment agencies for those openings. If you have an affirmative action policy, emphasize it.
4.  B. Ogawa
 An agency needs to be careful about co-opting group members, or selecting those who are of a certain racial background but not bi-culturally attuned. I would suggest searching for those who have significant cross-cultural experiences and have demonstrated respect and understanding and effectiveness more than merely being of a certain background. Diversify your policy makers also and others will see that your agency is serious. Many groups do not want to serve within or be served by those who are only superficially committed to multicultural services. An earned reputation must be established because trust is important. Educational institutions such as universities are good places to form long-running partnerships to equip many different types of staff.
In developing a conference on cultural sensitivity for victim service providers, is it appropriate to have separate workshops for each cultural/ethnic group (i.e. one about working with Asian Americans, Hispanics, etc.), or do you recommend another method of encouraging sensitivity?
1.  B. Ogawa
 My dream would be to have multicultural values and principles integrated in every workshop. There is a place for adanced skills workshops for certain groups but not in the content ones. Every human service issue is a multicultural one. We tend to segregate practioners and leave cultural competence issues for only a relative few. We all need to be more knowlegeable across many cultures and modalities and services.
2.  CBraunius
 One word of caution I might offer is something our agency has learned through past experiences. Sometimes, a person might identify with more than one of your groups. For example, the person may be multiracial or biracial. People also have more than one identity, such as class, age, or beliefs which may have more of an effect on his or her group identity than his or her physical appearance. He or she may be offended that there is no specific recognition of him or her. This may lead to some frustration on the part of the individual and with the event you are hosting.
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